I’ve not been writing much in the way of personal posts lately and I think that’s because I’ve had quite a bit going on and not really known how to write about it. Before I start, this isn’t a ‘woe is me’ post – I’m doing OK but I just wanted to share a bit of what has been going on with me lately.
So, in the title to this post I mentioned ill-health – I’m not actually ill as such but I’ve got a few medical issues at the moment which have led to quite a few trips to the doctors and hospital. The first thing has been going on for quite a while but I’ve only recently decided it was something I needed help with.
A quick TMI warning first – this relates to my pelvic organs and bowels, stop reading now if you don’t want to know…. I’ve struggled with constipation on and off for as long as can remember. Since Toby was born I’ve had more problems going to the toilet. It got worse after Gabe was born and seemed to have been even worse since about Christmas this year. Not only was I constipated but poo would get stuck. It was almost like I have a pouch just inside my bottom where the poo would get trapped and I would have to push from the outside to get it out. Early this year I finally realised that this wasn’t normal anatomy and a quick Google soon revealed that I probably had a rectocele – a kind of pelvic organ prolapse that can happen when you have a weakened pelvic floor, often after having children.
I started taking stool softeners and these have helped but by no means solved the problem. I eventually worked up the courage to go to my GP, and I needed courage because this is an embarrassing thing to talk about and admit to someone else, even a doctor. So I went to my GP, and I cried when I explained my problem. She was very sympathetic, examined me and agreed the best thing to do was to refer me to see a gynaecologist at the hospital.
While she examined me though she also noticed that my cervix was looking red. Just before I got pregnant with Gabe I had had some pre-cancerous cells removed from my cervix (I wrote about the process here) and although I had a clear smear test after that, and wasn’t due another one yet she thought I should get it checked out. So that meant a different gynaecology referral and another trip to hospital. It turned out I had multiple polyps on my cervix which needed to be removed. It is very unusual for polyps to become cancerous but it is still recommended they are removed. I had that done at the end of June – the procedure, which isn’t supposed to hurt, was incredibly painful but I recovered quickly and have no lasting ill effects.
Ten days after the polyp removal I had my second gynaecology referral. After more internal examinations the doctor agreed I have both a rectocele and cystocele (when your bladder prolapses into your vagina) although the latter isn’t really causing me any problems. Because of the level of symptoms I am experiencing, and because our family is complete the consultant decided she would be happy for me to go on the waiting list for corrective surgery. However, I am holding off on surgery at the moment. Although my symptoms are unpleasant, they aren’t particularly painful and at the moment are manageable. I think I would like surgery eventually but I know the recovery isn’t very easy, and would be especially difficult at the moment because you can’t lift anything heavy, and that includes toddlers.
There was another treatment option to try and that was to have a pessary fitted. This is a plastic ring which sits at the top the vagina and is supposed to help hold everything up and put it back in place. However, the pessary was fitted by a junior doctor, and although she was lovely she didn’t really seem to have much of a clue what she was doing. It was supposed to stay in until I had a follow up appointment in four months time, but it actually fell out the first time I went to the toilet! Anyway, I’m going back to the hospital again next week to try again so we’ll see how that goes.
Since I self-diagnosed my pelvic organ prolapse earlier this year I have done quite a lot of research about it and it turns out it is actually incredibly common. But it’s one of those things that no-one really talks about. I’ve never talked about it because it’s embarrassing and I didn’t even realise it was actually a thing for over four years, I just thought I had weird anatomy that was causing my problems. It is a thing though, and it is something that so many women suffer from, and rarely talk about. I hope that if I talk about it then maybe someone who is suffering the same issues will read this and maybe it will prompt them to get help too.
So anyway, as you can imagine after all of that I haven’t really been feeling on top form lately. That’s not all though. Last week I went to get my eyes tested. I last had them done about two and a half years ago but I got a voucher through for a free eye test and so I thought I’d make use of it and perhaps treat myself to some new glasses. I was also keen to see if intermittent fasting had improved my vision at all, which sounds crazy but something that I knew a lot of people had reported happening.
I went along for my eye test which was being done by a student optician – this meant he was very thorough but also that he might have to check things with his supervisor if he wasn’t sure about anything. He did the main eye test and sure enough my vision has improved in both eyes! I’m severely short-sighted but the prescription in my left eye is now down to -5.something, the best it has been since I was in my teens I think.
After the main test I then had to do the peripheral vision test. If you’ve never had this test before you have to look at a small red light in a machine, one eye at a time. There are small white lights that flash around the screen and you have to press a button whenever you see one.
My right eye was fine, but when it came to my left eye there was big gaps in between the lights appearing and I knew that wasn’t right. The optician got me to do the test again but it was no better. Last time I had my eyes tested I had to do this test three times (on three separate occasions) before they were happy with it so I wasn’t surprised there was a problem.
The student optician then got his supervisor to have a look in my eye again. He’d already done this and hadn’t seen anything untoward but the supervisor noticed something with my retina. Apparently if you are very short sighted you are at higher risk of retinal detachment, which can lead to blindness if it isn’t treated. I don’t have that but there is something going on (although he didn’t really explain what) and so I’ve been referred to the hospital for that too. So now I have two more appointments coming up. One for a field of vision test, and then another with ophthalmology where they’ll examine my retina again. I don’t know what they’ll find, or if I’ll need any treatment but I guess it’s best to get it checked out sooner rather than later.
So that’s the ill-health part covered. And unhappiness? I don’t know if I’m really unhappy but all of that has been a lot to take in over the last month, and I haven’t really felt like writing about it until now. I’ve also been a bit fed up with how my weight-loss has been going (or not going as it happens). I’m still committed to my intermittent fasting but I turns out I can’t ‘eat whatever I want’ in my eating window and still lose weight. In fact, in June, despite fasting for between 18 and 22 hours every day I still managed to put on nearly half a stone. It’s all a learning curve though, and since the start of July I’ve lost nearly 6lbs of that weight so I’m back on the right track. I’ve also started yoga again, I’m aiming for three times a week and doing well so far. I’ve also started daily meditation through an app called Simple Habit. It’s just 5 minutes a day and helping me to relax and stay calm, especially with the boys.
With all of this going on I don’t think I’ve really been the best mummy I could be lately. I seem to have been doing an awful lot of shouting, and not a lot of making fun and happy memories. The fighting and squabbling winds me up so much though and I can’t help but shout sometimes. I’m trying though, and hopefully over this summer we’ll all figure out how to get along better.
Like I said at the beginning I didn’t intend for this to be a ‘woe is me, isn’t my life awful’ post – I know there are so many people out there who have things a lot worse than me. But writing things down and sharing them here is how I have been dealing with life for nearly five years now, and I don’t want to stop doing that. I’m not looking for sympathy or advice (although if any of you reading this is living with pelvic organ prolapse or has had treatment for it then I’d love to hear about it), but I just wanted to share my story, my life lately, and hopefully soon I’ll have some happier news to write about.
Until then, thanks for reading.